Anil Kumble and John Wright were two important additions to the Mumbai Indians team this year even though their expensive player acquisitions before the start of the tournament had hogged most of the limelight. Along with Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar, they had formed a strong mentoring group which Kumble thought "seemed complete" and were instrumental in the team winning its first IPL title.
"As soon as I became the team mentor the first call I made was to John [Wright] to find out whether he was available to coach and he readily agreed," Kumble told the IPL site. "We have a good partnership and we know each other well since our Team India days. The next job was to choose a leader and Ricky [Ponting] was the obvious choice. With Sachin there, it all seemed complete."
After below average showing in the first two seasons of the IPL, Mumbai Indians came close to winning the title in 2010, but lost to Chennai Super Kings in the final. They continued their dominance in the league stages in the following two seasons, but were knocked out in the playoffs. This year though, they peaked towards the end of the tournament, winning seven of their nine matches including the final against Super Kings at Eden Gardens.
Asked what the new mentoring group did right, Kumble said, "Our job was just to create an environment where players could go and play to their potential and the team has responded exceptionally well. I'm really glad that after five years, on sixth attempt - both as player and mentor - I have finally won an IPL Trophy. It's great to be on the winning side."
The team had a quiet start to the tournament after which their captain Ricky Ponting, struggling to make an impact on the field, decided to drop himself from the XI. But Ponting's leadership skills came in handy, Kumble said. "It's never easy when you're nominated as the captain and you have to sit out of games. It's not been easy for him too but he has handled it commendably. His experience of being part of winning Australian teams has certainly helped. He knows how to motivate the players and what exactly to say to the players."
It was Wright's first year in the IPL and the win thrilled the former India coach. "It is unbelievable. It is the big league, and there are tough games in it. I always wanted to come here and experience it as a coach," he said. "We have played well as a team and have really come together, particularly in our fielding and our bowling. We had to hustle on Sunday night. We had a pretty tough start and we managed to get 148, which was good. "
Wright said the team tried to be fearless and aggressive after they had to make tough decisions early on. They played two fast bowlers as their overseas players consistently and Wright praised the way Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson responded. Johnson was the leading wicket-taker for the team with 24 wickets, while Malinga, who had a relatively below-par season, bowled a match-winning spell in the final.
"Eden Gardens has been so wonderful to me, I will never forget 2001 against Australia. This one ranks right next to it," Wright said.